It's time to start thinking about school supplies. Yes, school supplies.
The school year just wrapped up and summer is just getting started, but the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE), San Diego County Credit Union® (SDCCU®) and iHeartMedia, Inc. stations Channel 93.3, JAM'N 95.7 and Star 94.1 are gearing up to provide school supplies for the neediest of students -- children experiencing homelessness.
SDCOE, SDCCU and their radio station partners aim to collect thousands of much-needed pencils, pens, binders, crayons, backpacks, and more during the second annual SDCCU Stuff the Bus campaign.
"We are so happy to be partnering with SDCCU and Star 94.1," said Susie Terry, SDCOE project specialist with Homeless Education Services. "Providing these tangible resources can have an immediate impact on a student's ability to engage and participate at school. Students with many other worries in their lives can come to school prepared and ready to learn."
Following the success of the inaugural SDCCU Stuff the Bus campaign in summer 2015, the partners are going bigger with their efforts this year, more than doubling the length of the campaign. Beginning July 1, SDCCU will have two buses touring the county to collect school supplies during stops at credit union branches, shopping centers, and partner agencies, including SDCOE. Radio stations will periodically join the tour, with stops featuring personalities from Channel 93.3, Star 94.1, JAM'N 95.7 and KOGO 600 AM. Donation bins will be available in all 34 San Diego County SDCCU branch locations, as well as at select partner agencies and SDCOE locations.
An online phase of the Stuff the Bus campaign is now underway on Roonga.com, with nearly two dozen easy donation options, such as pre-filled backpacks, sets of pencils and packs of paper.
More than 23,000 school-age children were identified as homeless during the last school year. Homelessness for school-age children can mean living in a shelter, sharing a residence with whole families, living in a car or trailer in San Diego County or sharing a room in an apartment with relatives. Homelessness is not limited to urban, downtown San Diego — it affects suburban school districts all over the county.
"Students face many hardships — school supplies should not be one of them," SDCCU President and CEO Teresa Halleck said. "That's why SDCCU is proud to once again partner with the San Diego County Office of Education to provide supplies to the thousands of students experiencing homelessness in San Diego. We cannot do this without the help of the entire community and encourage everyone to stop by a SDCCU location to donate supplies."
School-age children experiencing homelessness face many obstacles, including finding transportation to and from school, having sufficient clothing and food and finding a quiet place to study, experts say.
The SDCCU Stuff the Bus campaign concludes in early August, when supplies will be sorted and packed by dozens of volunteers for distribution to San Diego County school districts in time for the new school year's first bell.